July 14, 2008

Tri-County Electric Coop Meeting Held

By Tesa Culli, Mt. Vernon Register-News, Ill.

Jul. 14--MT. VERNON -- About 1,000 households within the multi-county area covered by Tri-County Electric Cooperative were represented during the annual meeting held Saturday at the cooperative office.

"This year the emphasis is on the Our Energy, Our Future campaign to encourage members of the cooperative to start a dialog with our state and federal legislators," cooperative director Marcia Scott said. "We're not trying to tell members what they should think about global warming and other issues, but we have three questions we're presenting they can ask to get the discussions started. They are about capacity of energy, technology and how much of an increase they should expect on their bill."

The questions specifically are: "Experts say that our nation's growing electricity needs will soon go well beyond what renewables, conservation and efficiency can provide. What is your plan to make sure we have the electricity we'll need in the future?""What are you doing to fully fund the research required to make emissions free electric plants an affordable reality?" and "Balancing electricity needs and environmental goals will be difficult. How much is all this going to increase my electric bill and what will you do to make it affordable?"

Scott said with the rising cost of creating electricity, the cooperative wants people to start asking the "big questions."

"The good news is this year that even with the rising cost for us to purchase electricity, there will be no general rate increase," Scott said. "The ice storm cost us $900,000 and that was big. The cost of everything is going up from aluminum, steel, diesel fuel for the trucks that are all going up and down the roads providing service. Coal that is used at the power plant is going up unbelievably."

The way the cooperative is avoiding a general rate increase at this time was announced during the meeting last year, with the wholesale power line item of customer's bill.

"It fluctuates every month, and is the amount difference between the general rate paid and what the cost was for us," Scott said. "We explained it last year, and now we're doing it. It seems to be working well. We could have had a general rate increase, but when we determine that, it's a guess on how much electricity will cost. It could be too high, it could be too low. This way, we don't under bill or over bill the customers."


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